Posted by: molly | November 1, 2011

The God of the Green Pastures

Even when I go through the darkest valley,

I fear no danger, for you are with me;

Your rod and your staff–they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

I remember in college a dear friend telling me about having his iPod stolen from his car.  His life was deep in the crevices of the darkest valley.  Everything seemed hard to bear.  And then, someone stole his iPod.  This should have seemed like another unfair rut in the path through this dark valley for him.  He should have been angry–at the kid who stole his iPod, at Adam for introducing sin to the world, at God for taking yet another thing away from him.  But God in his grace gave this man a totally different response.  He shared with his friend how he was rejoicing that his iPod was stolen.  His reason for rejoicing I forgot a long time ago–it really didn’t make any logical sense.  Instead, deep in the valley of despair God had met him and given him joy.  The iPod was just a thing.  Joy in Christ was worth far more.

That night I rejoiced with him.  But in my heart I was crying.  I remember expressing to Moses how I wasn’t finding joy in my dark valley.  My world was falling apart.  The grandmother I loved so much was slowly dying.  It seemed that all of my friends were gone.  I didn’t know where to turn.  The more I grabbed at the remaining pieces the more things started to rip.  I was helpless, cast broken at the feet of a loving and merciful Savior.  He carried me through that valley as I kicked and screamed.  God meets us in the darkest valley.  He never leaves us alone.  We may be afraid, but he is always with us.

Sometime though, I forget that he has led me out of the valley.  Psalm 23 have one verse about the dark valley.  That, however is where I try to live.  I have heard enough sermons on Job and Paul and early Christians who have died for the faith that I have forgotten that God deals in other ways than leading us though dark valleys.

Sometimes I forget that God delights to give us good gifts.  I know I am not to hold his gifts with a tight grasp, knowing that in his perfect plan he may require that I give it back to him.  So, I prevent myself from caring.  I never believe it was given to me.  I never inspect it.  I assume that God’s plan never includes me keeping the good gift.  I think that God only gives me gifts so he can teach me more when he takes them back.

My view of God trickles down into how I live my life.  I do not delight in discipling my children but at times remember only the power of the rod, not the power of a hug, a word of encouragement and an instance of mercy.  I don’t buy my children presents so I can take them back as punishment, and yet, that is how I expect God to treat me.

God is the God of the dark valley.  He takes us there to teach us.  To grow us.  But before we ever get there is leads us in green pastures, as a Father who delights in giving good gifts.

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Responses

  1. i completely understand that mentality.

    i often times fall into the trap of believing that the Lord gives for the express purpose of taking away. (and, to be honest, my mind can list examples where that seems like that is the case.)

    like you, i have to remind myself that God isn’t like that: a viscous miser that charges cruel interest. like you, i have to tell myself that it is okay to love what’s given instead of keeping it at arms’ length because i’m afraid i won’t have it for long.

    i understand…


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